Which is better: Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

It's a common question: which is better, Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

It’s a common question: which is better, Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

In this blog, we will attempt to give you a better understanding of how both work. Hopefully by the end of the blog, you will be able to make a better decision on which is better for your business, or indeed, both could be!

The short answer for Google Ads or Facebook Ads is to try both for your business, and see which one works best – but continue to read on, and we’ll give you even more information to help you decide.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads are adverts you will see in a number of places on the World Wide Web. Have you ever searched for something, then gone on to another website and seen an advert for exactly what you were looking for? This is because Google have tracked you with something called Cookies. All websites should/will have a cookie policy and a privacy policy, allowing you to opt in or out of cookie tracking on their website. It’s essentially a small piece of code that tracks what you do on the internet to deliver personalised advertisements.

The same goes for YouTube – the second you search for something, you’ll then see an advert for it on the video or on the page. This is because Google want to provide the best ROI and target people interested in people’s services.

Google pay content creators and website creators to advertise on their websites through a program called AdSense – whether you’re a small blog or a multi-million subscribed YouTuber, this is how they make their money. It’s based on a metric called CPM (cost per thousand), where Google pay based on clicks and impressions of the adverts. The more views the advert gets, the more the content creator gets paid!

Google are all about data, so they track people on websites and their algorithms improve over time as more people deliver and see the adverts – it’s a solid way to make money for Google. Statistically, there are 3.5 billion searches every day in the UK on Google.

So, Google Ads are on YouTube, but mainly we are talking about Google AdWords in this blog. Let’s say you search “cat flap” in Google – you will return organic search results from those people who have nailed their SEO, or above them, you will view adverts that the company has paid to show you for specific search terms.

Those companies, themselves or through an agency, will target the keywords that people are most likely to both search and click through to the website. The more niche your offering or business, the less competition you are likely to have, meaning adverts could be cheaper. If you are competing against companies like Amazon, then the cost will be higher as we can guarantee that they will an advert for pretty much anything you can buy.

If you want to learn more about SEO, click here to read our blog on why it’s important (and is actually better than paid advertising for generating leads!).

Google Ads can work great for some businesses, and terribly for others – it completely depends on what your business offers, and it’s hard to tell until you actually try it. Google Ads are great for generating transactions and clicks to your site, but may not necessarily be great for learning about your customers and what their interests are. There’s also very little scope for people to share a Google Ad, as a friend could search the same term and get completely different results – we’ll get on to that shortly.


What are Facebook Ads?

Facebook Ads and Google Ads are very similar, however Facebook Ads are delivered across the Facebook network (mainly Facebook, Instagram and even WhatsApp).

Similarly to Google, Facebook allows advertisers and companies to use something called the ‘Facebook Pixel’. Just like Google, the more people that use it and interact with pixels, the more information Facebook can track on a person’s interests and even their purchasing habits on a transactional level. Because, arguably, Facebook retain more intimate information on a person and their interests (based on Page Likes and interactions mainly), it’s much easier to target people and create a much more enticing advertisement.

Best of all, you can create amazing imagery and even use videos on Facebook Ads to drive further engagement. You can do this with Google Ads, depending on their placements, however Facebook is a lot simpler for this. According to The London School of Economics and Political Science, there are 42 million people on Facebook in the UK – that’s just under two thirds of the total population, which is a lot of people to target.

As Facebook own numerous platforms, you have the ability to choose where those adverts show up. We never recommend running or creating an advert from directly within Instagram, as it only gives you limited targeting options – do this in your Ads Manager and select Instagram as a placement instead.

From our experience, Facebook advertising gives you a lot more control over who you target and their interests, not necessarily their searches. For example, you could be interested in looking at a cat flap as a present for a friend (maybe get them something a bit nicer!), but you could actually have two dogs. If you have two dogs, it’s very likely that you like to spoil them and interact with pages about Dogs on Facebook, which will go towards the algorithm for advertising and showing you content you are more likely to be interested in.

Anyway, back to the pixel. This is a genius way to advertise, especially for those that sell products online (eCommerce), but it still works for those that sell a service or through bricks and mortar. The Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that is installed to a website, to track exactly what you do on that site. Again, this is particularly handy because in your Facebook Ads Manager, you can set up certain events that you want to track.

For example, if you are a clothing brand selling purely online, you will want to track events such as people adding to cart, or starting the checkout process but not finishing it.

If you are a business that sells services, you may want to set up events that track people clicking enquire now buttons or such-like.

Why would you do this?

Well, the pixel tracks the activity of this person and stores it in your pixel. As the advertiser, you then have that information to then re-target them on Facebook. Have you ever been to an online store, clicked off, and then seen an advert for exactly what you were looking at? Well, it’s not magic (it is really), but that’s the pixel tracking you. The beauty of re-targeting adverts is that you are narrowing down your advertising to people who have already been to your website and shown an interest in your services. Re-targeting adverts are shown to achieve, typically, a 6x return on investment, and up to 78% increase in conversions from those customers. Imagine what investing a little bit of money could do if you were achieving anywhere near those numbers.

With the pixel, too, you can create something called a lookalike audience. These are people that you can reach who are similar to those who have already shown an interest in your services. So, for example, Customer A has been to your gym clothing website and made a purchase. He has a friend, Customer B, who does not yet know about your services. Because Customer A and Customer B both like the same Facebook pages about bodybuilding, you can then use Customer A’s information to target Customer B, because based on their engagement, they are similar people (was that easy to understand?).

Speaking of narrowing down, you can hyper-target your audience based on their interests. So, 20 million people could be interested in cats, but then you can narrow it down further to people who have purchased in the last 7 days (engaged shoppers), or people just living in the UK. There’s literally endless possibilities with Facebook advertising.


That was quite a long introduction, so let’s break it down a little bit now: Google Ads or Facebook Ads?


1. From a Creative point-of-view

Winner: Facebook Ads

As we’ve said, in Facebook, you can put together a wide range of creative and content for your advertising. For any advert we run, for ourselves or for a client, we always put together 4 adverts: 2 that push an offer or a service with high-quality images and a range of copy, one advert with a video and a range of copy, and a re-targeting ad that gets customers to come back and either purchase or make an enquiry. On every advert, also, we create a range of call-to-actions, and we make ongoing optimisations based on what works and what doesn’t work. Videos are twice as likely to drive engagement on Facebook, as it forces people to pay just that little bit more attention to the offering, so we always recommend spending a little more time on putting a video together if you can.

One negative is that Facebook restricts the amount of text on the creative for the advert. If it’s too text-heavy, Facebook will decline it. You do have to be very careful with not only what you advertise, but how you advertise it on Facebook. Their advertising policies and algorithms have become a lot more strict in recent years, stopping you from using certain terms to discriminate between certain people – we’re not even talking racially here, but even things like ‘bad credit’ is discriminatory and can get your account suspended.

With Google Ads, you can get creative to a certain extent. There’s lots of different ad formats, ranging from text-based ads to shopping ads and video ads on YouTube. In our opinion, though, it’s much easier to get creative with Facebook Advertising, and it’s that little bit easier to stand out on someone’s Feed.


2. From an ROI point-of-view

Winner: Depends on your business and offering!

Casting back to what we said earlier, it completely depends on so many variables and factors. Some people claim that their Facebook Ads return a 4x better ROI than Google, whereas some people claim Google Ads returned a 6x better ROI than Facebook.

The simple answer is this: try both – split your budget in half and see which one works better for you, but don’t just do it for one month. Just test it with £50 for each for 3 months, and see which ones are best for your business!


3. From an interaction and engagement point-of-view

Winner: Facebook Ads

Aforementioned, Facebook Ads are essentially normal posts that people can interact with. The best thing about Facebook Ads is that you can ‘influence the influencer’. So, for example, your partner is in the market for a new car and you have also been helping them to look. You could get an advert on your Facebook for an exclusive offer on a car, and tag your partner in it or even share it! This means you can reach hundreds, if not thousands more people without spending any more money. Google Ads are just there, really, and can be different for everyone.


4. From an ease of use point-of-view

Winner: Google Ads

Facebook Advertising has got a little trickier over the last few years. Google Ads are very simple to set up, especially for search engine marketing on AdWords. All you need to do is set up your advert, create the copy and the headlines, and then choose the keywords you want to target. The good thing about this, fairly contrary to what we said earlier, is that the people you are targeting could be anyone – you’re not necessarily targeting the person, but you’re targeting the decisions that they are making at that point in time.

One example could be someone buying a house, which most people do pretty rarely – it’s not something that is consistently purchased, if ever for some people. Your Facebook page may not reflect the fact that you are in the market for a house, however, if you search ‘new homes near me’ in Google, it’s fair to say you are interested at looking at a property at that particular moment in time, and that’s where Google comes up trumps.

With Facebook, there’s probably too many options available that could overwhelm a newbie, which would result in them not getting the best ROI or just wasting money because they haven’t set up their campaign correctly.


5. From an analytical point-of-view

Winner: Both brilliant!

Putting together an amazing advert is all well and good, but what if it’s not actually performing? The statistics never lie, and this is what constantly has to be monitored in order to make your campaigns successful.

Firstly, Google shows a pretty basic level of analytics in the immediate dashboard. However, you have the ability to track (similar to Facebook) events, and you can link it to your Google Analytics to drill-down deeper in to the people that interact with your advert. You could also link this with Hotjar (click here for a free trial) and watch screen recordings of how people then interact with your site once they’ve clicked from your advert.

Facebook shows a lot more data, but this is just for the advert and doesn’t necessarily track website interactions (unless configured). You can set it up to show the value of conversions, which can be handy if you are selling products through your website. E.g. Advert one, you spent £100 and made £200 in sales, because this has all been tracked correctly – a Facebook Advertising expert (us), would set this up for you.

If you are using video in your advertising campaigns, you can even see how many people watched until the end. If people did watch the video until the end, it’s likely that they are more interested in someone who only watched 20% of the video. You can then use that data to re-target them again. It’s all very clever!


6. Changing your advert

Winner: Google Ads

During a campaign, Google recommends other keywords and shows you how each specific keyword is performing. If you find a specific keyword has had lots of impressions, but no clicks, it’s time to get rid of that keyword from your campaign, which can be done at the click of a button. Google also provide the Keyword Planner. In this tool, you can type in keywords you think are best suited to what you want to advertise. Google will then show related keywords, the average cost per click for that keyword, and the level of competition for that keyword, which is really helpful.

With Facebook, each change to a campaign or advert has to be reviewed before it can go live. This is a positive, however, no matter if it’s a change to the copy or your audience targeting, it won’t go through instantly and won’t do until Facebook approve it.


7. Targeting potential customers

Winner: Facebook Ads

Facebook offers hyper-targeting options for you to get extremely specific with who you want to target. You can target a large audience, or a very specific audience for a certain product. If you have a niche business or product, this will be a lot easier for you. If you are selling apples, it’s hard to target people who like apples, and you’ll have a lot of competition.

Google is also good for targeting customers, but it’s not necessarily based on their interests, but their purchasing decision at that specific moment in time – you can purchase things and not necessarily have an interest in them. An example could be a screwdriver – you may need it put a picture up, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a full-time interior designer or handyman that does it for a living.


The Final Verdict: Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

Winner: Facebook Ads – just!

The small caveat to this is that, like we said earlier in the blog, it completely depends on what you want to sell and how you want to sell it – we do recommend testing both and seeing what works for your business. However, Facebook advertising offers a lot more customisation for the advertiser and allows you to be more creative with your advertising. There’s loads of metrics & tools that you can use to measure the success of your advertising campaigns, but changing your advert can be time-consuming.

For either advertising platform, we recommend spending time playing around with variations of copy and creative. A/B testing is a great way to do this. To put it simply, Create Advert A and Advert B – they can be similar, or completely different! Run them at the same time, with the same amount of money behind them, and see which one provides better results. Remember, more clicks doesn’t necessarily mean better results; it goes back to the old saying of quality over quantity.

Learning Facebook Ads as a business owner is a great way to start your digital marketing journey – getting someone else to do it is a good option, but it won’t teach you much. Have a play around with your Ads Manager and set aside a small budget every month to test and see what works for you and your business!

Looking for a team of experts to manage your paid advertising campaigns? Contact us using the form below – we’d love to get involved in your next project.

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